A Review of 7 Sensational New Books to Help You Have A Fabulous Spring!
By Alison Blackman
As I write this, I’m huddled in a sweater and the wind is whipping a blinding rain around outside my window. Nothing is blooming and if it was, it probably would be frozen by now.
But, in anticipation of sunnier, warmer weekend days, and cozy Spring nights, I have selected 7 sensational new books to help you enjoy the season.
There’s a novel that’s actually well “novel.” Try Passover recipes to satisfy guests who may be vegetarian and/or gluten-free, and use this recipe book to delight family and friends any time of year.
If you’re traveling to New Orleans, check out a book with the lowdown on the most interesting bars you never knew existed.
Please a beer and cheese lover with grilled cheese recipes that are special and fun.
Read about a turn of the Century “pop culture/celebrity” writer who made it big, but who was “Odd.”
Relax your mind, soothe your spirit with 2 gorgeous adult coloring books from a famous designer.
No matter which of these you choose, you’ll have a wonderful experience!
If my reviews entice you, I’ve included direct links to Amazon so you can download or order these books immediately. Do you like these books? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please Tweet, Facebook or simply email me.
BRING ON NEW BOOKS FOR SPRING!
Smoke Drink F..k by Esme Oliver (Riverdale Avenue Books 2017) is a quirky story about a woman turning 40 coming to grips with her life which kept me turning the pages until I finished it, actually in one sitting.
Esme is an annoying narcissist and there were times I found her so unappealing I just wanted to put the book away. But I had to find out how the story ended.
Upon being dumped by two boyfriends in a row and on the verge of age 40, Esme drags a female friend with her for a week in Italy, where her plan is to smoke, drink, pursue “amore” (I can’t say that word either) and do some power shopping
Once there Esme is more than happy to abandon her reluctant friend whom she denigrates (to us, the readers).
Esme is concerned about her weight, her hair, and just about everything else, and yet she decides to throw caution to the winds and have one wild week as a takeoff on the best-selling novel Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (a book she naturally dislikes). Esme’s friend really isn’t into all of this but Esme really doesn’t care.
Ater a few dismal days in Rome, the ladies move on to Umbria where on their first night Esme meets a young Italian man. After sweeping he sweeps her off her feet they have a torrid love affair that she thinks will definitely end when she boards the plane. But it doesn’t. When it continues, mostly on Facebook, the affair ends badly (I’m not giving away everything).
However, with that broken heart, Esme learns important lessons about life, love, and herself to set herself on a new life course.
So why did I actually like this book? The story was like a soap opera, too good to be true and probably embellished, but juicy enough to keep my attention. And on a serious note, if you consider the issues, you’ll learn how not to behave in life, love and career if you want to be happy and successful.
My husband says that if women weren’t around, all men would do is sit on the couch and eat cheese and drink beer.
That may or may not be true, but two guys, Kevin VanBlarcum & James Edward Davis have created Grilled Cheese & Beer: Recipes for the Finer Things in Life (Hatherleigh Press 2016) which is simply a recipe book of grilled cheese sandwiches from simple to sophisticated, paired with different beers and lagers.
Davie was a chef from Brooklyn New York to the Catskills, VanBlarcum is a brewer at Keegan Ales in Kingston NY. The recipes are delicious, although it might not be easy for the average person to find all of the craft beers suggested for pairings (and I take exception to having beer for breakfast, even if petit dejeuner is grilled cheese).
On the plus side, who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich, especially when they have cute names such as: Johnny Apple Cheese (with Angry Orchard)’ Muenster Mash (with Stella Artois) or Dia de los Quesos (with Modelo Especial). Nope, these are not your mom’s grilled cheese sandwiches for kids, they’re definitely elevated version.
The photos alone will have you salivating, and most are really easy to make. Get grillin’!
Being a writer is hard work, mostly not appreciated and not very glamorous. It isn’t any different today than it was in the early 20th Century, as you will discover when you read An Odd Book: How the First Modern Pop Culture Reporter Conquered New York by R. Scott Williams.
Odd MyIntyre is being billed in this biography as the “first modern pop culture reporter,” but when he was at the height of his fame and rubbing elbows with the likes of Fred Astaire, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charlie Chaplin among many others, pop culture didn’t exist, although movie idols, did. Odd simply reported on what was going on backstage and with “Trends” in his time period. And it wasn’t at all easy.
Early in his career, Odd struggled to find work as a newspaperman. He was chided for his lack of good spelling and grammar.One boss even fired after he covered one of the biggest stories of the century — interviewing the survivors of the Titanic .
Odd also had demons that he kept well hidden from everyone but his wife Maybelle, leaving home only at night (I guess “Odd” was a good name for him).
On a personal note, I’m a writer, not a person who just counts the number of followers on my Instagram Photos. So what resonates with me about this biography is that Odd didn’t have to resort to tricks (or buy “likes”) to get known.
His witty and authentic writing style finally earned him praise and recognition (although I wonder how well Odd would stand up if he had to write in today’s world where even writers are ruled by Snapchat).
This book by R. Scott Williams, CEO and Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at the Newseum in Washington D.C. is well written (clearly he knows how to spell) and a fun book for any aspiring journalist, or anyone who likes celebrities, or just a good story
If you are into bar hopping and you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, get yourself a copy of Drink Dat New Orleans –A Guide to the Best Cocktail Bars, Neighborhood Pubs, and All-Night Dives by Elizabeth Pearce (the Countryman Press 2017) . It’s the quintessential guidebook to bars in NOLA, with photos and suggestions not just for “what’s good” but what kind of people go there and what the ambiance is like.
Would a pirate-tavern be to your liking? How about one that has some of the patrons who loved it so much that they’re ensconced in urns behind the bar? Maybe one that’s dangerous and dungeon-like?
Ms. Pearce is co-founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum so she knows about some of the more unusual places to drink your booze whether it’s on touristy Bourbon Street, the Garden District, or elsewhere.
Although my favorite bar in the French quarter (Coops known more for delicious gumbo than drinks) wasn’t included, it’s a pretty comprehensive guide. Next time I’m going to NOLA, it’s coming with me! One thing that’s missing? An index.
Passover is right around the corner, but even if you’re not celebrating Perfect for Pesach: Passover Recipes You’ll Want to Make All Year By Naomi Nachman with Photos by Miriam Pascal (Artscroll/Shaar Press 2017) could make your dinner table more interesting all year long.
Passover cooking requires using certain ingredients (or not using them) to adhere to religious tradition and dietary laws, but that doesn’t stop the author, aka. “The Aussie Gourmet,” from offering recipes that are easy to make, and delicious for the entire family. There are over 125 recipes included with lovely photos from this kosher blogger and cookbook author.
I like the fact that she provides enough information for even a beginner to get the recipes, right. That said, personal taste is just that, and I found some of the recipes rather odd, such as Cauliflower Sushi, and Tangy (that word always turns me off) Aioli Branzini just to name a few.
But on the plus side, there are vegetarian options and 120 of the recipes (which means nearly all of them) are gluten-free, making this book modern and trendy. I’m allowed to reprint a recipe from the book to give you an example of what you might find. Here’s one of my favorites: